Welcome to the ballroom, it’s been waiting for you. How fun is “New York Night” you guys? First, we’ve got an insane opening number choreographed by Mandy Moore that celebrates the city that never sleeps — they highlight angry pedestrians (very accurate), but skip over commuters crying on the subway (am I speaking from experience? Maybe!) — with a guest appearance from Tiler Peck, the principal dancer from the New York City Ballet. There is TAP DANCING (more tapping on dance shows, please and thank you). We get a visit from The Mark Ballas, who is sorely missed on this show. And praise the ballroom gods for both that troupe 80s Wall Street-themed dance that I will treasure forever, and the shout out to Newsies. We’re all living the big city dream tonight. Let’s take a look at how the Big Apple celebration translates into our contestant’s routines.
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
Foxtrot, “Boy from New York City” by The Manhattan Transfer
DeMarcus calls himself a “big, chocolate piece of steel” and there’s no going back from that. What a delight to watch. Lindsay and DeMarcus are a little nervous about their foxtrot since the smooth, elegant dance can be tough for such a big guy. There’s also the little, not-so-important fact that the former football star had TWO AND A HALF DAYS to learn TWO routines. What an overachiever. Not only does he perform the routine with gracefulness and lightness of foot, but even Len himself comments on how good DeMarcus’s footwork is for week two. DeMarcus is the front-runner, right?
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev
Cha Cha, “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift
Danelle and Artem’s performances provided some emotional moments in week one, but week two is a whole different game: It’s time to cha cha, you guys. Danelle feels overwhelmed by the faster style in rehearsal, but Artem decides they are going to embrace her disease and choreograph a solo for Danelle that features her (sparkly) walking cane. Artem is a treasure, people. Danelle stumbles a bit post-solo, but the judges are impressed that she recovers so quickly. Len calls the routine “competent” which, like, isn’t great but isn’t terrible either.
Judges’ Score: 18/30
John Schneider and Emma Slater
Charleston, “New York’s My Home” by Sammy Davis Jr.
Serious question: Is Emma actually from the ’40s? She perfectly looks the part of 1940s NYC train station patron. The performance has some Charleston, but it’s not as speedy as I typically enjoy in this style. Still, Emma and John are playing up the Broadway aspect of the City that Never Sleeps, and this routine does not disappoint on that end. The judges are wowed. Bruno can’t get over John’s high kicks, and although Len wanted more Charleston (same, girl), he loved the performance. Carrie Ann tells John that he’s “the Greatest Showman,” and honestly, I hope someone has called Hugh Jackman. Tough break, bud.
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy
Cha Cha, “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
First Danelle is on I.V.’s and antibiotics, now Nancy has fractured her foot. What is happening on season 27? Of course, Val, resident teddy bear, blames himself. He is in charge of Nancy! This happened on his watch! It’s not like he has to beat himself up too much — the judges all love their “Uptown Girl” cha cha, which, for the record, is not the first song I think of when I’m ready to cha cha. Still, they make it work. It’s not the smoothest, but both Bruno and Len call out Nancy’s confidence, which has got to make a girl feel good — broken foot or not.
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Argentine Tango, “Swan Lake” by Ray Chew Live
When you roll in and say you’re dancing an Argentine tango to Swan Lake after getting mentored by New York Ballet principal Tiler Peck, um, ya better bring it. The judges like this one a little more than I do, but my opinion is worth nothing (it’s fine, guys, really). Carrie Ann is so-so on the clunky lifts but is thrilled to see so much tension infused into the routine. Bruno notes how difficult it is to dance that style to that piece of music, and loves the dynamic lyricism of the ballet mixed with the sensuality of the Argentine tango. And Len, well, Len Goodman gives out the first nine of the season. So yeah, he was into it.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Foxtrot, “New York State of Mind” by Matt Beilis
With this show being on hiatus for so long, I forget just how spectacularly dramatic it can be. Case in point: This week Joe is not dancing a regular ol’ foxtrot — our favorite grocery store owner is dancing a REDEMPTION FOXTROT. He has so much to prove! Can. He. Do. It? I mean, kind of? He remembers all of the steps to his sweet little love story set in NYC. That’s an improvement. He still has a lot of work to do both performance-wise and on the technical side, but as Carrie Ann reminds him “it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” That’s a much nicer end to things than last week!
Judges’ Score: 17/30